Position: Science Teacher
School: New Manchester High School
School District: Douglas County School System
City, State: Douglasville, Georgia
About the Nominee: Casey Bethel was nominated by his superintendent, Gordon Pritz. Casey Bethel originally pursued a career as a doctor, then a scientist. While teaching University of Georgia undergraduate students in lab classes, he developed a passion and turned his attention towards K-12 education. He taught for ten years in DeKalb County before joining the Douglas County School System staff at New Manchester High School three years ago.
Mr. Bethel is an example of a teacher with a thirst for knowledge. He has spent the past six summers participating in Georgia Tech’s Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) and conducting authentic biochemistry research. He is also a Paul A. Duke Award winner for his lessons, which have been published in The Journal of Chemical Education. Mr. Bethel isn’t simply learning for the sake of learning; he brings practical solutions into the classroom so his students understand the relevancy of the different curricula. He is truly a state “treasure” for enhancing and promoting the field of science to students in Georgia. In fact, his ability to make a difference in the lives of students, demonstrate leadership in the school and district and outstanding professional performance recently earned him the title of 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year.
A typical visit to Mr. Bethel’s classroom is exciting, motivating, inspiring and demonstrative of his belief in the teaching profession. He encourages and nurtures students, shares knowledge and provides inspiration while making students feel welcome and supported in his classroom. His teaching colleagues are amazed by his ability to balance his classroom responsibilities with supporting students outside of class. Mr. Bethel is often invited by other teachers to sit in on their classes and participate during his free periods. He has built strong relationships with his fellow teachers and has successfully encouraged them to become involved in the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to help promote the STEM field. Engaging with others, regardless of the topic or situation, is one of his strongest assets
Mr. Bethel doesn’t only teach science, however. He impacts the lives of his students for generations and sponsors a male mentoring club at New Manchester High called Project Manhood. As part of this club, Mr. Bethel works with young men to provide them with opportunities to give back to their community. He leads by example, and there is no finer role model for the district’s young people.
Mr. Bethel has a positive attitude and a relentless motivation to help students and other teachers thrive while serving as a caring husband, father and positive spark in the community. He and his family have stood strong in the face of extreme medical challenges in recent years including premature twins and cancer. Today, they stand strong as a testament to their faith and eternal optimism. They are heroes and a daily inspiration to many in the New Manchester High community.
Overall, Mr. Bethel’s leadership and communication skills, character, integrity, intellect and initiative make him a LifeChanger to everyone he comes into contact with!